Thursday, March 15, 2012

Six things to consider when buying the new Apple iPad.

Here are six things you should consider when buying the new Apple iPad.
Is the new iPad faster than the iPad 2? - In terms of the speed at which it runs apps, no. In terms of processing power, the new iPad has the same 1 GHz dual core processor as the old one, so the answer is no. The new iPad does had a quad core graphics processing unit (GPU) as compared to the dual core GPU of the iPad 2. Apple says it is twice as fast as the iPad 2. Early benchmarks shows it to be about 60% faster.
However, since the new has a a higher density 2048 x 1536 screen resolution, the faster GPU does not mean faster performance. The GPU has to push out four times as many pixels, so the new GPU has to work four time harder.

The new iPad also has 1 GB of RAM, double that on the iPad 2. Again the higher resolution screen will result in apps with larger textures which occupy more memory. According to The Verge, the new app installers are 2.5 to 5 times larger than the old apps. The increase in memory will be needed to accommodate the new larger files.

Is the new iPad faster than the iPad 2? - In terms of 3G internet connectivity - Yes. The iPad 2 supported HSPA 7.2 Mbps connectivity. The new iPad supports HSDPA+ 21.1 Mbps connectivity. Both Globe Telecom and Smart Communications have HSDPA+ 21.1 networks. So in terms of data access speeds through the 3G network, it is theoretically three time faster.

The international version of the new iPad does is HSDPA+ only, but there is an LTE version also. Given that both Globe and Smart are rolling out LTE networks, we may even see an LTE version in the Philippines. That is all of 72 Mbps of connectivity.

Storage could be an issue. With the new apps potentially being 2.5 to 5 times larger than previous files, you may want to skip past the 16 GB model and get the 32 GB or 64 GB model instead. Remember storage is not user upgradeable. 

The 3G version is worthwhile considering. With the larger apps, local storage will be relatively less than previous iPad's. But really, trends are changing these days and you should look beyond local storage. Apple offers its iCloud service with 5 GB of storage, so you can keep more of your content in the cloud. Stuff you purchase from iTunes is stored online for free, so this wont count against your 5 GB.  Third party cloud storage providers do also give free online storage. My two favorite are  Dropbox and Box. These three services will give you 12 GB of additional storage.

Will it play HD content in its native resolution? Yes, with one big BUT. I have some issues with the choice of a 2048 x 1536 resolution. If you play HD content (720p or 1080p) like movies and the like, well it will waste almost 1/3rd of the screen. In that sense, the iPad is not the best multimedia player.

Should I buy the new iPad. Is it worth the upgrade? For existing iPad owners, I would think once apps are rolled out optimized for the iPad 2, the 256 MB of memory on the original iPad would be a serious limitation. If you own the original iPad, I think you should consider a move to the iPad 2.

For iPad 2 owners, given that the new iPad is not really faster than the old iPad it gives your tablet a longer lease on life. Still the new 2048 x 1536 "retina" display, HSDPA+ and LTE are worthwhile thinking about.

For first time tablet buyers, if you want a 10 inch or so tablet, there are really only three good choices The iPad 2, the new third generation iPad and the Asus Transformer Prime.

The WiFi only 16 GB iPad 2 at Php18,900 is 5K cheaper (6K off on the 3G models) than the new iPad. You have to decide for yourself if the higher resolution screen is worth it for you. If you want more storage, when the third generation iPad becomes available, you wont have the choice anymore for more storage on the iPad 2, so you may want to pick up the 32 GB or 64 GB iPad 2 soon.

If you are getting a 3G model, definitely, the new iPad is the better choice. The new 2048 x 1536 "retina" display, HSDPA+ and LTE are worth the additional 6K.

What about the Asus Transformer Prime? It is really for a niche market. The iPad is a great tertiary device to add-on to your smartphone and personal computer, or a good choice for those who don't need a laptop or a desktop.

For those wanting to replace their laptop or desktop with a all-in-one device the Asus Transformer Prime is a better choice. It has a keyboard dock which integrates well for carry. The iPad's have a keyboard too, but you will have to carry it around as a separate piece.

The Asus Transformer Prime dock is also more than just a keyboard, it also house a SD Card slot and an additional battery. Since the prime already has a MicroSD card slow on the tablet, and 32 GB on board, the Asus Transformer Prime can give you a total of 96 GB of storage. You can install install apps which give you system wide file management (basically, Windows Explorer or Apple's Finder). The iPad has no system wide file management unless you jailbreak it. So if you have hundred or thousands of documents which you want to store locally in folders and sub-folders, the Asus Transformer Prime would be a better choice.

But really, the Asus Transformer Prime is for a niche market who wants a tablet with laptop features. It is only a better choice if you fit in this niche.

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